Saturday, February 24, 2024

Moody’s downgrades Letshego Holdings credit ratings 

Moody’s, an international credit agency, has downgraded Letshego Holding Limited standing to Ba3- moderate negative- saying financial dark clouds are hovering over Sub Sahara Africa region and will continue for the best part of 2023.

“We assign a Ba3 corporate family rating (CFR) to Letshego Holdings Limited on par with its ba3 standalone assessment. We also assign an issuer rating of ba3, based on our forward looking view of the declining portion of secured funding as a percentage of total funding, which neutralizes structural subordination concerns.

“The outlook on Letshego is negative,” Moody’s said.

Some of the risks that the credit agency detailed out include rising competition, regulatory risk cybersecurity threats, high inflation rate and interest rates, as Letshego expands into Africa.

Last week, the chief executive officer of Letshego, Aupa Monyatsi, shrugged-off concern about the full year financials to December 2022, which dipped 30 percent to P 801 million.

The former managing director at Absa Bank said Letshego has got strong financial buffers. He is putting ducks in a row to ensure that it does not happen again.

Letshego roped in former managing director of Access Bank, Kgotso Bannalotlhe, to oversee Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho operations, while Fergus Ferguson—who was in these areas- is headed to the troubled operations of East and West Africa.

Letshego has a presence in 11 countries namely; Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana. Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are the trouble-spots that dragged down the company results.

Moody’s hailed the move and said: “Letshego is currently executing its “6-2-5 roadmap” strategy, focusing on product diversification, geographic rebalancing, enterprise agility and corporate structure and creating sustainable stakeholder value.

Letshego is into micro financing, banking, deposit taking. 

It aims to get into insurance, payments, savings and housing products and to target non-governmental employees and Small Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs).  It has acquired banking and deposit taking licences in Ghana, Mozambique Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Namibia.

The main shareholders are Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund—civil service grey-hair—at 35.3 percent and Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited at 27.8 percent.

Some Batswana are clamouring for the grey-hair fund to call all other shareholders into a room and give them an offer. This will allow civil servants, through BPOPF, to own entire shares of Letshego.

However, there are huddles lying ahead at the Botswana Stock Exchange‘s Listing rules. The BPOPF got some shares by “default” as they used third parties- stockbrokers to reach the 35 percent mark.

“They should come directly, as it is, they got some of the shares by default,” one analyst observed.

Moody’s believes that Letshego has maintained a “niche franchise” specializing in loans to government employees and quasi-government employee under the deduction at source.

The company is the third biggest on the BSE and also has a listing on the secondary board in Namibia. It has bond listing in Nigeria and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges.

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